Why Activism matters in South Africa

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Activism is a way through which people express their feelings and interfere in social, political, economic and environmental reform of society to make changes. South Africa suffers a lot especially in terms of issues affecting the youth and therefore youth activism will play a major role in putting an end to all forms of facing young people. This violence includes, but is limited to: Gender-Based-Violence (GBV).

GBV can be physical, psychological, financial, verbal, emotional and economical violence. Young women and girls are more exposed to GBV because most often perpetrators are usually close associates or spouses. GBV is a big problem in South Africa which has come to focus after recent bout of cases of young women reported killed at the hands of their boyfriends. In some cases, victims do not die, they end up badly injured physically, psychologically, they suffer depression which sometimes leads to suicide.

There is no discrimination when it comes to GBV, perpetrators do not discriminate according to age, race, religion, and culture; and therefore this includes men who are also abused in their homes; workplaces, places of worship and also within the society. It is very important for all young people in South Africa to work together with progressive organisations and movements to stop the scourge of (genderised) violence in the country.

Youth needs to intensify their effort and action. The 16 days of activism against GBV is an international event that was initiated by activists during the inaugural women’s institute in 1991. Ever since then it has become a yearly event under the coordination of center of women’s global leadership.

A number of young people have become critical stakeholders and advocates for social and gender related issues in the country. Some are involved in the establishment of social movements, demonstration, and staging of protests to kick against gender-based-violence. Young activists are becoming conscious of the challenges, risks and the threat of gender based violence on women and girls across the country. They display courage in organizing social change by questioning political, societal conventions and addressing stereotypes that support the problem. The youth participate in gender activism ranging from gender inequalities, feminisation of consciousness around poverty and violence against women and girls. A youth-led protest took place in 2020, in four major cities of South Africa: Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria, where massive protesters moved on the street to stand against the rising rate of the brutal gender-based violence in South Africa.

There is no doubt that alcohol has led so many crimes in South Africa. The evidence of this was seen during the COVID-19 lockdown when crime rates fell sharply according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, when alcohol was banned. Immediately after the ban was lifted the was a spike in crime in South Africa. This suggests that alcohol influence can lead to crime, especially crime against women. Even in the townships, the number of brawls and violence at events and in taverns is shocking following the deaths of youth, especially ones like at ENyobeni tavern after the lift of the lockdown countrywide.

The working class community has suffered a lot as a result of the low level of education. basic education is a right but that is all the government offers because at completion that the working class cannot afford to attend tertiary education. Although there are bursary schemes that working class students can exploit but this is not always the case because it is even more difficult to get admission to university. The government has allowed a 30% pass rate in high schools. Stuck with a matric certificate without even a college admission, and as a result of low level of education, people resort to quick ways of making money to support themselves and their families but sometimes the only way they could do that is through crime.

Crime is not only robbery or theft but abuse as well. COVID-19 exposed a lot of things in this country and the impact which retrenchments from work caused in many home. As a result, a lot of women suffered abuse from people who were supposed to support and protect them. The South African Police Services and the South African National Defense Force were visible in the streets to make sure people adhered to the rules of lockdown but no one came into the houses to protect the women from domestic abuse. Many were overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to endure from home-schooling their children, house chores and making sure there is food in the house.

Women are the most affected by unemployment in South Africa and this opens them to economic vulnerability and abuse. It is a fact that financial dependency plays a role in domestic violence and often causes women to return to abusive partners especially if there are children involved. Empowering women will go a long way in eradicating domestic violence in South Africa.

Violence against women continues at an alarming scale in South Africa and the world. The abuse of women is normal behaviour in many countries, globally, because firstly women are discriminated. Speaking out against women abusers is something that women’s rights organisations do daily. From lobbying government to improve laws and services to working with communities to change discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, organisations and individuals are working all over the world to respond to and prevent violence against women. GBV is a huge problem in South Africa and the world at large and it therefore requires global action. Calls for action like the 16 days of activism are crucial because they shine a spotlight on the issue. They are a movement to create public awareness about what needs to be changed to prevent it from happening in the first place at local, national, regional and international levels.

Encouraging activism by the youth is effective because it is will help to reduce the rate of violence and crime in the country. Youth activism is the first step to cultivate strong and passionate individuals who will lead South Africa into a positive future. Youth activism has played a major role in putting an end to slavery, protecting workers, promoting gender equality, opposing racism, and many more benefits in South Africa. Therefore, encouraging youth activism in our world will sensitise the new generation that they have the capacity to stand and advocate for their beliefs.

This article is an opinion piece submitted on 11 November 2022. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Karibu! Online or Khanya College. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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